Baby goat feeding grain

Everything You Need to Know About Goat Food

Table of Contents

It’s as clear as day that goats are herbivores as they feed mostly on plants. But if you’re a newbie homesteader, navigating their world, there’s so much more to their diet that you should know about when feeding goats.

So, in this guide, we’ll talk about:

  • what foods do these ruminal animals eat and how much do goats eat
  • the toxic foods they must avoid to keep your goat from disasters
  • and tips to keep in mind when feeding goats

This guide will help you make sure you’re feeding your goats the right way and optimize their health and nutrition. 

But first, let’s dive into the science behind a goat’s digestive system to understand its dietary needs.

Feeding Goats with Unique Digestive System

Goats are ruminant animals with unique four-chambered stomachs and two-toed feet. Their digestive system is similar to sheep, cattle, deer, elk, bison, and giraffes.  

The Goat’s Digestive System

Like most animals, the process of digestion in goats starts in their mouth. But there’s something interesting about these animals that you must be aware of before goat feeding. Let us give you a walkthrough of the goat’s digestive tract to understand why these animals can live off of grasses and other plants, starting off from their mouth to their intestines.


Fun fact! Goats actually have no upper incisor or canine teeth. So what do they use when eating and chewing?

Well, they utilize the dental pad in front of their hard palate, their lower incisor, lips, and tongue to cut and bring the food inside their mouth.


This passage helps transport the gasses and cud from the mouth to the stomach, specifically, the rumen and reticulum’s junction.

Now, let’s get into the exciting part; the four stomach chambers which include the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum.  

Rumen (The Paunch)

This compartment is the largest among four chambers, with a capacity of 3 to 6 gallons (depending on the feed type).

The conversion of starch and fiber feeds into fatty acids takes place with the help of microorganisms like bacteria and protozoa. 

Another fun fact: These fatty acids are absorbed through the rumen walls and provide about 80% of your goat’s needs.

Reticulum (The Honeycomb or Hardware Stomach)

There’s a reason why this compartment is called a hardware stomach. Goats tend to swallow foreign objects that can injure them, like wires, nails, and screws. And it’s where this stuff goes, and its capacity is around 1/4 to 1/2 gallon. 

Omasum (The Manyplies)

This chamber, also known as manyplies, comprises folds or layers of tissue that digests feed ingesta and squeezes water from the feed. Omasum can carry around 1/4 gallon of feed.

Abomasum(The true stomach)

The final compartment, the abomasum, works similarly to the human stomach. That’s why experts refer to it as the true stomach. 

It is where the pepsin enzyme breaks down feed proteins before entering the small intestine, and it has a capacity of 1 gallon.

Small Intestine

In this compartment, the duodenum, the enzymes produced by the pancreas further break down the nutrients into simple compounds. 

Then, these compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream or lymph. It has a capacity of 2 1/2 gallons, so technically, it can carry more than the large intestine. 


It’s a simple tube structure at the confluence of the small and large intestines also known as the blind gut. 

Feed ingredients that enter this compartment are digested by the bacteria that live there. The cecum of a goat has a capacity of about 1/4 gallon.

Large intestine

It is the final destination of undigested feed and unabsorbed nutrients, and it comprises the rectum and colon. 

This compartment can carry about a 1/4 to 1 1/2 gallons, and further water absorptions and digestion take place in this intestine.

Accessory glands

It refers to the salivary glands, liver, and pancreas that aid indigestion. 

The salivary glands produce saliva that’s important when the goat chews the cud, while the liver supplies bile aids in emulsifying fat to prepare for digestion. 

On the other hand, the pancreas secretes enzymes that help digest carbs, proteins, and fats in the small intestine. 

Rumination of Goats — Why Goats Always Chew

Have you ever wondered why do goats constantly chew? You may notice them chewing while lying down. That process is called rumination or the regurgitation, rechewing, and swallowing their rumen ingesta.  

Livestock with four stomach compartments regurgitate bolus or the cud when resting, which are ball-like masses of fibrous and gritty food. 

The regurgitated cud is thoroughly chewed for about one minute before being swallowed once more. Depending on the type of feed, ruminant animals can spend up to 8 hours each day ruminating.

Feeding Goats and Their Nutrition

Since goats are ruminant animals, they are primarily herbivores. They thrive by browsing for food and having a variety of fiber and roughage.

But their nutrient requirement varies depending on different factors, including:

  • age
  • sex
  • breed
  • body size
  • climate
  • physiological stage
  • production purposes (either dairy or meat)

Essential Nutrients for Goats

Here are the essential nutrient requirements of your goats that must be met to optimize their nutrition.


Goats can get carbs from sugars and starches found in grains and cellulose fiber from their foraging grass, shrubs, weeds, and other plants. The bacteria in the rumen then convert them into fatty acids which are the source of energy.

You have to need to maintain at least 12% crude fiber for most goats. But if you have dairy kids, you need to keep in mind that they need 21% energy which is a lot higher than the average.

Your goats may also need higher energy rations during breeding, late gestation, and most especially, at the time of lactation which they can get from fresh pastures and young plants.


Kids, lactating goats, and those who grow mohair for fiber need more proteins than most adult goats. They get it from foods such as:

  • hay
  • alfalfa pellets
  • barley
  • peas
  • corn
  • oats
  • distilled grains and meals like soybean, canola, and cottonseed
  • and forages

If you’re feeding goats with quality hay, you won’t need much protein supplements for your ruminal livestock.

Here’s a table that sums up the nutrient requirements of your goats based on their production stage.

Nutrient Requirements of Growing Goat Kids

Production Stage

Nutrient Requirements, Dry matter basis

Dry Matter Intake, % of Body Weight % Crude Protein % Total Digestible Nutrients (Energy)
25 kg dairy doelings and castrates, gaining 100 – 150 g/hd/day

3. 3 – 3.8



25 kg boer doelings and castrates, gaining 100 – 150 g/hd/day

3 – 3.4 

15 – 17


25 kg intact dairy males, gaining 

– 100 g/hd/day 

– 150 g/hd/day

3.2 – 3.7 





25 kg intact boer males, gaining 100 – 150 g/hd/day

3.3 – 3.7



Nutrient Requirements of Mature Does


1.8 – 2.4  7


Early gestation

2.4 – 3.0

9 – 10


Late gestation

2.4 – 3.0

13 – 14



2.8 – 4.6

12 – 17

53 – 56


Vitamins and Minerals

Goats also need vitamins and minerals like humans. They need vitamin C for a stronger immune system and fat-soluble vitamins like A, DE, E, and K).

Check out the table below to get a grasp of your goat’s mineral requirements.

Acceptable Quantity of Macro and Microminerals in a Goat’s Diet
Macrominerals % Microminerals (ppm or parts per million)
Calcium (Ca)

Phosphorus (P) 

Sodium (Na) 

Potassium (K)

Chloride (Cl) 

Sulfur (S) 

Magnesium (Mg) 








Iron (Fe)

Copper (Cu) 

Cobalt (Co)

Zinc (Zn)

Manganese (Mn) 

Selenium (Se)

Molybdenum (Mo)

Iodine (I) 










Goats can get their energy from fats as well. While browsing, goats absorb a small quantity of fat. Carbohydrates provide excess energy, which is deposited as fat, particularly around internal organs.

During times of increased energy need, such as during lactation, the goat’s body uses the stored fat.

What Do Goats Eat? 

Here are the goat foods your ruminal animals find tasty when browsing and grazing.


Crabgrass, Bermudagrass, Sorghum-Sudan Grass, Ragweed, and Pigweed are among the favorite grasses of these ruminants.

But can goats survive on grass alone?

Goats can’t survive on grass alone. They need to browse to get more nutrients from other plants. 

And to maintain a healthy body weight and produce a significant amount of milk, they require hay and vitamins from other plants like Brambles.


Brambles are prickly plants that belong to the rose family and include blackberries, dewberries, boysenberries, and loganberries. These plants and twigs are safe for goats to eat.

Christmas trees

Goats enjoy nibbling and playing with the branches and needles of the Christmas tree since it is tasty to them.

Pine needles are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and other nutrients, and the sap can be used as a natural dewormer at some petting zoos.


Stinging nettles with pointed leaves and white to yellowish blooms can be eaten by goats. They do, however, strive to chop and wilt them for a day before eating them.

Japanese Knotweed

This plant has bamboo-like stalks and small white flowers and they’re safe for humans and goats.


Goats are browsers by nature, but they might like some parsnips. When consumed in moderation, it is both safe and high in protein.


What to Feed Goats When They Can’t Forage

Goats can’t forage at night and during winter, so you may need to provide for your goats. Here’s a list of the best feed for goats that you can choose from.

1. Hay

Do goats eat hay? Hay is one of the primary sources of nutrients for goats asi

de from their range. But what is the best hay for goats? Let’s get to know each one of them to know which is the best goat food choice for you. 

Types of Hay:
1. Legume hay

Legume hay includes alfalfa (lucerne), clover, and birdsfoot trefoil. Alfalfa is one of the best goat hay for milking goats since it contains more protein, vitamins, and minerals like calcium than grass hays. It contains a crude protein content of 15 to 22% and crude fiber content of 34%.

2. Cereal Grain Hay 

This type of hay is softer and sweeter than legume hay, has higher fiber content, but a lower crude protein ratio which is around 9%. But the good news is it contains minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, and manganese, which is good news.

3. Orchard Grass Hay

The crude fiber content of this hay is over 30%, however, the protein content is just around 7%.

4. Timothy Hay

Hay, for example, has a crude fiber ratio of 32 percent and a crude protein ratio of 7%. 

Like cereal grains, timothy hay doesn’t provide sufficient nutrients for your goats so they’re best mixed with legumes. 

Do goats need hay at night?

Goats will need hay at night especially during cold nights because they usually munch on their hay to generate their own heat and stay warm. 

They also need constant access to hay during rainy nights.

Do goats need hay if they are free-range?

A goat’s diet primarily consists of hay, grass, pasture, and other plants. Even if they’re free-range, they may still need hay if they can’t get enough nutrients from browsing. 

2. Chaffhaye

Chaffhaye is a premium Non-GMO Alfalfa produced by cutting young Alfalfa grass and chopping it and then mixing it with molasses. They also add a probiotic called Bacillus subtilis and vacuum-pack it. It’s one of the best food for goats.

However, they’re more expensive than ordinary hay.

Do goats need Chaffhaye?

Chaffhaye is more nutritious than hay so it’s ideal for ensuring your goat’s maximum health. In fact, a 50-pound bag of chaffhaye is equal to around 85 to 100 pounds of hay. 

3. Grains

Grains contain protein, vitamins, and minerals but you should feed them to goats in moderation. The most suitable types to use when feeding goats are wheat, barley, and oats. 

What happens when a goat overeats grain?

Beware when feeding goats with grain because if they overeat, it can lead to acidosis or grain overload/poisoning, slowing of their gut, dehydration, and often death. That explains why you must limit your goats’ intake of grains.  

So, how much grain should I feed my goat?

Grain must only be 20% of your goat’s diet. One cup of grain is enough for adult goats but limit your kids{baby goats) intake to ½ cup of grain.

How Much Should a Goat Eat a Day?

It could vary depending on how much they forage, but if you’re wondering how much hay does a goat eats, each goat consumes 2 to 4 pounds of hay every day.

To know how much to feed a goat, you need to consider its weight. These animals’ daily food intake is around 3 to 4% of their total body weight per day as expressed in pounds. 

They eat more as they grow older and bigger and especially if they’re kidding or lactating. But they’d consume less hay if they can forage and it can also save you a considerable amount in the long run. 

How Often Do You Feed a Goat?

If you’re using hay, you can offer it as a free choice or twice a day, giving around 2 pounds of hay in the morning and another two pounds in the evening. It depends on your goat’s needs and the availability of pasture, weeds, grasses, and shrubs in your area. 

What Not to Feed Goats

Goats have the reputation of eating everything they see. But that’s not always the case. Some foods are harmful to them. So, what should you not feed goats? 

Here’s a list of harmful food for goats.

Finely-milled grains

Goats can eat whole grains, including barley, wheat, and oats but in moderation. Finely milled grains are undesirable and may cause indigestion, as their digestive systems are not designed to handle grains.


If you’re thinking, “do goats eat meat”? As we said earlier, goats are herbivores, so they cannot eat meat or dairy products. They can’t digest meat in the same way that vegetables are digested, and they lack incisors and canine teeth to grind meat. So, it can only cause indigestion and discomfort.


Avocado fruit, seeds, leaves, and even peels should not be fed to your goat since they contain persin, a toxin that is safe for humans but highly harmful to goats.

Cherry pits

Cherries’ small and hardened pits that surround the seeds are harmful to goats because it contains amygdalin, a cyanide or chemical compound that can poison a goat.


Potato leaves and stems are harmful to goats and other livestock because of their toxic steroidal alkaloid contents like solanine and chaconine. Green potatoes also have chaconine, so it’s safe for goats.


Don’t let these flowering shrubs deceive your goats because they contain grayanotoxin. Ingesting fresh foliage as little as 0.1% of a goat’s body weight is enough to make your goat feel sick.  


Goats can eat kale in small quantities, but too much or frequent consumption will cause the accumulation of oxalates and glucosinolates that are potentially toxic to goats.


Your goats should not consume chocolates too because it has theobromine which is toxic.

Garlic and Onion

Garlic is rich in selenium which helps keep the goat healthy. Roasted garlic is delicious for goats. However, too much onion and raw garlic can upset your goat’s stomach, so these should be fed in moderation.

What is toxic for goats to eat?

Below are other plants that are toxic to goats that can cause either weakness, lethargy, vomiting or even diarrhea, and other health problems. 

  1. Black Locust 
  2. Buckwheat
  3. Cherry Trees
  4. Crotalaria, Rattlepod
  5. Desert Baileya
  6. Flax Plant
  7. Horse and Bull Nettle
  8. Houndstongue
  9. Japanese Pieris
  10. Jimsonweed
  11. Johnson Grass
  12. Kochia
  13. Laurel
  14. Lambs Quarter
  15. Leafy Spurge
  16. Lupine
  17. Milk Thistle
  18. Milkweed
  19. Nightshade
  20. Monkshood, Aconite
  21. Onions
  22. Oleander
  23. Pigweed
  24. Orange Sneezeweed
  25. Poison Hemlock
  26. Ponderosa Pine
  27. White Snakeroot
  28. Tall Buttercup
  29. Tansy Ragwort
  30. Water Hemlock
  31. White Snakeroot
These groups of plants are also dangerous for goats.
  • Carolina and Yellow Jessamine, Evening Trumpet Vine
  • Goats Rue, Professor Weed, and French Lilac
  • Jimmy and Burrow Weed, Rayless Goldenrod
  • Leucana, Whiteland Tree, Guaje, Huaxin and Koa Haole
  • Nolina, Bear, and Brunch Grass
  • Serviceberry, Saskatoon Berry, June Berry
  • Snakeweed, Broomweed and Turpentine Weed
  • Sophora, Texas Mountain Laurel, Coral Bean, Mescal Bean, and Frijolito
  • Spiny Plants such as Burs, Thistles, and Needle Grass

Feeding Goats the Best Snacks and Treats 

Goats like snacking too, but what do goats eat for treats? If you’re looking for healthy snacks and treats for your goats, here are some of the best options for you.  


The hydrating nature and vitamins like A, C, K lettuce provide are why it is an excellent treat for goats. 

These vitamins do not just strengthen their immune system. It also enhances their skin and eyesight. 

Bell Pepper

No matter what the color of the bell pepper is, they’ll make great treats for goats because they’re packed with vitamin A, potassium, and beta-carotene. However, we suggest getting rid of the seeds before feeding them to your goats.


Can goats eat carrots? Like bell peppers, carrots also provide vitamin A, beta-carotene, and fiber to prevent constipation. So, yes, it is safe and edible for goats. 


Bananas are rich in potassium and fiber, and some goats like their sweet taste. Others may be picky, but they can eat both the fruit and the peel.


Goats can also eat pumpkin and its seeds, but not the leaves. This treat provides fiber, potassium, and vitamin A and has a delectable sweet taste.

Some goat owners even add pumpkin to their goat’s food as a natural dewormer. So, aside from providing vitamins and minerals to your goat, it can also serve as a supplement that helps fight off parasites.


Can goats eat apples? Yes! They’re an excellent source of carbs, fiber, and protein. It may sound cliche, but an apple a day really keeps the vet away. 


A watermelon is a great option if you want a hydrating treat filled with vitamins and antioxidants for goats. Goats can eat the fruit, seeds, and rind of this fruit, but you shouldn’t feed it regularly. Otherwise, it’d cause indigestion.


Feeding your goats with pears occasionally is beneficial because they provide potassium which aids in metabolism, and vitamin C, which helps build a stronger immune system.

How often should you give your goats some treats?

The treats mentioned above are healthy and nutritious, but treats must only be 5% of your goats’ daily diet or less.

That is because overconsumption of those foods can affect the calcium to phosphorus ratio of these ruminal animals, which may lead to the development of urinary calculi.

So, make sure that treats are fed in moderation. Your goats’ diet should primarily be grass and other foliage they get while browsing. But what if they lack some nutrients?

That’s where supplements come in handy. Let’s see what supplements you should prepare for your goats. 

Best Supplements for Goats

Like humans, goats also need supplements to improve their health and nutrition. These are the vitamins and other nutritional supplements you need to keep in your barn and supply cabinet to keep them in shape.

Loose minerals

You can offer loose minerals free choice for goats at all times. Some brands need salt to be more palatable, but others like Sweetflix magnum already provide complete formulation. 

It’s perfect for lactating dairy goats because it can help promote optimal nutrition.


This probiotic supplement is the key to helping your goat recover its good rumen function. 

Sodium Bicarbonate/Baking Soda

This is the go-to solution for goats suffering from bloat, so it’s a staple on most barns. 

Most people use it as a free choice because goats can self-medicate. 

Selenium/Vitamin E

If you’re in an area that lacks selenium, a trace mineral found in soil, it’s best to provide your goat with a selenium supplement. You’ll know if the soil is deficient in selenium if there’s less than 0.5mg of selenium per kg of soil. 

This mineral is crucial for their reproductive health and muscle function. 

Vitamin B Complex

Goats need vitamin B1 or Thiamine for better metabolism and neurological activity, and those who suffer from anemia need vitamin B12.

Since Thiamine deficiency can lead to life-threatening conditions, it’s best to provide supplements like Fortified Vitamin B Complex.


If your newborn kids and lambs are weak, this oral supplement filled with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and glucose is the holy grail for them. 

Furthermore, it also boosts your goat’s appetite and ilk production. 

Copper supplement

Poor coat quality and growth in kids are sometimes due to copper deficiency, so goats need this mineral.

Copper is often present in loose minerals, but most goats need additional supplements 1 to 3 times a year in a copper bolus. 

Iron Supplement

This supplement is also a must-have in your kit, especially if your goat suffers from anemia. It can help increase their red blood cell count, and it’s available in pellets and injectable iron supplements. 


Kelps are an excellent source of iodine which aids in regulating metabolism. You can add around 1 pound per 50 pounds of goat feed.

Feeding Goats Tips

Before you feed the goat in your backyard, here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure their health and safety.

  • Determine your goat’s health condition and nutritional requirements and ensure they’re all met. 
  • Store the goat food in a safe place to keep its nutritional value and away from rodents, dampness, and contamination risks. A goat’s diet must come from forage, so it’s best to have enough area for them to browse and graze.
  • Observe proper hygiene when feeding goats.
  • Make sure the hay is of high quality.
  • Avoid changing your goat’s habit and diet suddenly. DO it gradually instead.
  • Add colostrum when feeding goats that are newly born.
  • Place the formulated and chicken food out of goats’ reach.
  • Lastly, provide accessible clean and fresh water sources to prevent dehydration.

Feeding Goats Equipment You’ll Need 

Putting the goat’s food like hay directly on the ground is not ideal when feeding goats because they tend to poop on their feed. And when their meal is saturated with their manure, they won’t eat it already.

So, that could waste a lot of hay. 

It’d be better to have containers for their feed and water to ensure that the goat food is clean. 

You may also need the following when feeding goats:

  • feed storage containers
  • food and water buckets
  • hay manger
  • mineral feeder

Feeding Goats Frequently Asked Questions 

What should you not feed goats?

Your goats shouldn’t consume garlic, onion, kale, avocado, finely milled grains, cherry pits, chocolate, and other foods that contain caffeine.

How do you feed goats cheaply?

If you want a cheap goat feed alternative, weedy hay is among the suitable options for you because it’s inexpensive and contains sufficient amounts of nutrients your goat needs.

Do goats need salt blocks?

Goats crave salt, and they would love it if you’d provide them with salt or mineral blocks. 

Salt helps meat and dairy goats to grow faster and produce more milk. It also aids in maintaining their healthy appetite and body weight.

Can goats have whole corn kernels?

Corn is safe for your ruminal animals, but goats must only eat crushed corn or cracked ones. 

Remember that goats have no upper front teeth, so they’ll struggle in grinding and digesting whole corn kernels. 

Is Cracked corn good for goats?

Corn can be a good diet option for goats, and it is easier to grind and digest if it’s cracked, but it’s low in proteins. The advantage of it, though, is it contains a generous amount of calcium that is good for animals, especially those suffering from urinary calculi.

Can goats eat chicken feed?

Goats like to eat chicken feed, but you need to keep it away because it can disrupt their rumen’s flora. It can also cause bloat if eaten in large amounts. 

Is sweet feed OK for goats?

Sweet feed is safe and okay for goats. In fact, they love to eat, and there are specifically formulated sweet feeds for goats.

What do goats hate?

Goats hate the scent of several herbs, including lavender, sage, hydrangea, and cayenne pepper. They also dislike animal dung and peppermint oil. 

Is alfalfa good for goats?

Yes. In fact, many goat owners prefer to use alfalfa for goats because it’s a high-protein goat feed that also contains vitamins and minerals like calcium than grass hays. That explains why it’s popular for dairy goat owners, especially during the lactating and kidding season.

How do you get rid of the bloat in goats?

The best thing to do if your goat is suffering from bloating is to call a veterinarian since it is a life-threatening condition, and the treatments for the bloat vary depending on the type and cause. 

How much corn do you give a goat?

The number of grains you provide to your goat daily, like corn, must not exceed 1% of their body weight. Lactating can consume a higher percentage which is 1.5%. 

How many goats can clear an acre?

Most goat keepers say that it takes about 8 to 12 goats to clear one acre in one month.  

Do goats eat grass?

Goats are ruminant animals, so they’re herbivores, and they eat grass and woody shrubs. However, they’re browsers, which means they prefer browsing on shrubs and weeds overgrazing on grasses. That’s what sets them apart from other livestock. 

And even if they nibble some grass, weeds, and shrubs, they still need nutritious food sources like alfalfa hay.

Feeding Goats Our Final Thoughts

When feeding your goats, remember to take note of the foods that are toxic to them and minimize their grain intake to 20% of their diet to prevent bloating.

Your goat can consume 2 to 4 pounds of hay per day or 3 to 4% of their body weight. But you can save more if they can forage to browse for food.

Since they can’t forage during winter, we recommend giving your goats the best goat hay even at night because gorging on it can help keep their body warm.

Make sure to provide clean, fresh water for them too so they can stay hydrated.

If you’d keep these tips in mind, goat feeding must be a piece of cake.

Best Goat Feed – A Helpful Buying Guide 2021

Bottle Feeding Baby Goats - Backyard Goats

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Once your kids arrive, you will need to decide if they will be dam-raised or if you will be bottle-feeding baby goats. There are reasons you might choose to bottle feed from promoting friendliness to managing the dam’s udder. Or you may be forced to bottle-feed because for one reason or another the dam can’t or won’t let the kids nurse or a kid is too weak or compromised to nurse. Whatever the reason, if you are planning on bottle-feeding, you likely have many questions including:

  • What kind of milk to feed baby goats?
  • How to get a baby goat to bottle feed?
  • How much milk to feed a baby goat?
  • How long to bottle feed a baby goat?

What Kind of Milk to Feed Baby Goats:

When bottle-feeding baby goats, the very first milk they must receive is colostrum.  Ideally, the dam will be producing enough colostrum that you can express her own into a bottle and immediately feed it to the kids. But if her fresh colostrum is not available for some reason, your other choices are to feed fresh colostrum from another doe that has kidded at the same time, feed frozen colostrum that you saved from a previous kidding, or feed kid colostrum replacer. For this last choice, it is important to be sure it’s kid colostrum replacer and not calf or lamb replacer as the nutrient needs are different for different species. It is also important to be sure it’s colostrum replacer and not milk replacer. Newborn kids absolutely must get colostrum in the first 24-48 hours of life or their chances of survival are low. Do not substitute any type of homemade replacer at this stage and don’t try to get by with regular whole milk.

Washing bottles with Pritchard nipples. Photo credit: Melanie Bohren.

Once you get the newborn kid through the first 24-48 hours, then you can switch to milk.  Ideally, you will have fresh goat milk available as this is best. Many goat owners who choose to bottle-feed will milk the dam and then immediately transfer the milk to bottles and feed it to the babies. Other goat owners prefer to heat-treat the milk before bottle-feeding baby goats in order to eliminate the risk of potentially passing CAE or other diseases from the dam to the baby. I, myself, do my CAE tests while my does are pregnant so that I know they are negative and then I feed the mother’s milk to the babies raw, which feels more natural to me and I believe it contains more of the beneficial antibodies than heat-treated milk does. But if you do choose to heat-treat, remember that colostrum cannot actually be pasteurized because it will curdle, so it must just be gently heated to 135 degrees F and held at that temperature for one hour. Regular milk can be pasteurized at 161 degrees F for 30 seconds.

If you don’t have fresh goat milk for bottle-feeding baby goats, then your choices are goat milk replacer or another species of milk.  I have seen goat milk replacer recipes but the advice I get from my veterinarian and goat mentors is that whole cow milk from the grocery store is more adequate and appropriate in the event that I don’t have, or don’t want to use, powdered replacers.

How to Get a Baby Goat to Take a Bottle:

If your newborn is healthy enough to have a strong sucking reflex, getting it to take a bottle will be relatively simple. I like to use the little red “Pritchard” nipples for newborns because they are smaller and easier for them to suck. Don’t forget to snip the tip of the nipple as it doesn’t come with a hole in it! Hold the bottle at an angle so that the milk is flowing downward, open the baby’s mouth with your fingers, and stick the nipple inside. I find it helpful to put gentle pressure on the top and bottom of the muzzle to help the baby hold the bottle in its mouth at first. A strong kid will generally be hungry and start sucking enthusiastically.

Bottle-feeding a baby goat. Photo credit: Kate Johnson.

If the baby is too weak to suck, you may need to feed a few drops at a time through a medicine dropper (be careful not to put too much on its tongue or in the side of its cheek at once or it could go down the wrong tube and into the lungs). Or you may need to tube-feed the baby. I’ve also had babies that just needed to wake up a bit in order to get the sucking response going, and I find that using a supplement like “Nutri-Drench” or some Caro syrup or even coffee, rubbed on their gums, is often enough to give them a little energy boost and get them eating.

How Much to Feed a Baby Goat:

How much your babies will need depends on whether they are full-sized breeds or miniature breeds, and also on how old they are. In general, try to feed three to four ounces per five pounds of weight per feeding. At first, you may be feeding every three to four hours, and then after a few days, you’ll spread this out to four feedings a day. You can drop that back to two or three feedings a day at about three weeks of age, and then down to twice a day by six to eight weeks. For the last month, you can feed once a day as they should be eating some hay and grain by then, if not sooner. 

Here are two useful charts to use as a starting point. You may need to modify the schedule and number of feedings per day based on your own schedule and time constraints, but this is a good place to begin:

Bottle-Feeding Nubian Goats (or other full-sized breeds):
Age     Ounces per FeedingFrequency
0-2 Days3-6 ouncesEvery 3-4 hours
3 Days to 3 Weeks6-10 ouncesFour times a day
3 to 6 Weeks12-16 ouncesThree times a day
6 to 10 weeks16 ouncesTwice a day
10 to 12 weeks16 ouncesOnce a day
Source: Kate Johnson at Briar Gate Farm
Bottle-Feeding Pygmy Goats (or other miniature breeds):
Age     Ounces per FeedingFrequency
0-2 Days2-4 ouncesEvery 3-4 hours
3 Days to 3 Weeks6-8 ouncesFour times a day
3 to 8 Weeks12 ouncesTwice a day
8-12 weeks12 ouncesOnce a day
Source: Melanie Bohren at Sugarbeet Farm
How Long Do You Bottle-Feed a Baby Goat?

As a general rule of thumb, when I’ve decided on bottle-feeding baby goats, I try to feed doelings for at least three months and bucklings or wethers for at least two months. Sometimes I go longer if I have extra milk, but this seems to get them off to a good start and by two to three months they are eating grass, hay, and even some grain, so their need for milk is greatly reduced.

Bottle-feeding baby goats is a time commitment, but it’s also a fun way to bond with your babies and make them oh so friendly!


What to feed a goat and kids: feed table

Goats are unpretentious animals, their maintenance does not require large ranges with high-quality grass and spacious rooms with high temperatures in winter. They tolerate all weather conditions well and this makes them so popular in private household plots. Goats are omnivores and feeding does not cause much trouble to the owner.

The basis of the diet of an adult goat is fresh grass and hay


  • 1 feeding adult goat
    • 1.1 Combor
    • 1.2 Water
    • 1. 3 feeders
  • 2 Feeding and growing KOZLITS
    • 2.1 on the subsose
    • free-range or on leashes, and return home only in the evening. In winter, they are kept in a barn, and only on frosty days goats are let out for a walk. During a summer day, a goat eats about three kilograms of grass, including branches of shrubs and trees. Despite the abundance of greenery, goats are fed in the morning before grazing and in the evening after it. nine0003

      Rules for feeding goats

      The question of what to feed a goat does not cause difficulties: the animal eats grain (oats or barley), compound feed, hay, vegetables with pleasure.

      Green juicy grass saturates the body of goats with protein, carotene, calcium and other minerals. In summer, goats receive hay after grazing. In winter, hay is one of the main types of food. When harvesting, it is better to give preference to bean hay or meadow small grass. Useful and chopped carrots with cabbage, beets, potatoes. Fruits can also be added to the diet - apples, pears, watermelons and melons. nine0003

      Turnips and other vegetables for goats - vitamin supplement

      In winter, they are given straw along with hay, animals willingly eat tree branches with leaves harvested in summer, clusters of mountain ash, fallen leaves, which are stored for a long time in dry places. Calcium and phosphorus necessary for animals are contained in salt - candy, it is constantly kept in the feeder. A special lollipop can be easily replaced with table salt, chalk and meat and bone meal.

      Goat lick - an important nutritional element

      To maintain a high milk yield in the cold season, farmers give their wards Trivit and Tetravit.

      Dairy goat's diet per day

      Compound feed

      Compound feed is one of the most popular types of feed for goats. There are two main types of ready-made compound feed:

      • Complete feed that does not require additional feeding.
      • Concentrated, given with hay and straw.

      Compound feed is produced in loose form, in the form of granules and briquettes. Together with mixed fodder, they produce additives for the treatment and prevention of diseases, carbamide concentrate, feed mixtures and protein supplements with vitamins for the preparation of mixed fodder. nine0003

      Compound feed for goats

      Compound feed can also be prepared by yourself. The basis is barley with oats (43-45%), wheat and wheat bran (30%), with additives in the form of sunflower and soybean meal, herbal flour, salt, dry yeast and premix.

      Daily feed allowances for goats and goats

      Animal owners should remember that compound feed is used as an addition to the main menu, and not as the only type of feeding.


      In summer goats drink well water with pleasure, in winter goats should only be given warm water. Goats are watered after day and evening feeding. Each animal needs eight to ten liters of water per day. To protect the queens, young animals and goats from beriberi, the animals are given a vitamin decoction of medicinal herbs. For decoctions, raspberry, cherry, strawberry leaves, viburnum berries, mountain ash are suitable.

      Steamed compound feed with vegetables

      Instead of clean water, animals can drink compound feed steamed in a large amount of water once a day. nine0003

      Goat feed per head


      At home, two types of feeders are used: for hay with straw, tree branches and dry feed, or universal goat feeders are installed. Goat feeders are placed in the corners of the barn or come to the wall, they are installed at a meter height so that the goat or goat does not climb into them. The number of feeders is determined depending on the size of the herd, since all animals must have free access to feed. For hay, a feeder resembling a fence is used, since wooden slats allow animals to eat feed without hindrance. For dry food in the room, they put containers such as bathtubs, half a barrel. nine0003

      Wooden goat feeders

      Feeding and raising goats

      On suction

      There are three ways of feeding goats - on suction or feeding by the uterus, artificially, in a combined way. The easiest way to raise healthy animals is to trust the goat to feed the kids from the first days of life.

      After lambing, the goat is brought to its mother for an hour, having previously expressed a little colostrum from the goat.

      Lactating kid does not need to be fed at first

      When using the suction method, the farmer is obliged to monitor the condition of the goat's udder and, if necessary, express colostrum or milk.

      Kids learn from their mothers by imitating everything. After five days, the goat tastes the hay, at ten days it begins to chew soft hay, tree branches with leaves, and drink warm water. After another five days, he can be given compound feed. At three weeks, chopped carrots, cabbage and pumpkin are introduced into the diet, as well as top dressing - five grams of salt with bone meal, and a little chalk. The amount of feeding is gradually increased so that in three months it doubles. nine0003

      If a goat has two to three babies, young animals at the age of one month are included in the daily diet of twenty to thirty grams of concentrated feed, and for two months its amount is increased to two hundred to three hundred grams.

      Starting from the age of three months, kids begin to be weaned from the uterus: first at night, then for a day, for two days and are transferred to independent maintenance.

      Two diet options for young goats

      After weaning, young goats can be given milk porridges and mixtures instead of milk, so within a week the young goats are completely transferred to adult food. nine0003


      In this case, immediately after birth, the kids are transferred to a warm room. For an hour they are fed with warm strained colostrum from bottles with nipples. While the goat is giving colostrum, it is decanted and given in pairs to the kids, if there is no colostrum, they are given milk for a decade five times a day.

      If goat's milk is not available, they give cow's milk or purchased pasteurized milk.

      Artificial feeding of kids

      The first feeding takes place in the early morning - 5 or 6 hours, the last at 9hours of the evening. The kids are fed from bottles with nipples, from bowls, or milk is poured into a saucepan. After eating, the dishes are washed with boiling water, then dried.

      In the first four days they are given 200 grams of milk, after two days the dose is increased by fifty grams, bringing up to three hundred grams at a time. On the eleventh comes the turn of the question, what to feed the kids. From this day on, along with milk, young animals can receive liquid oatmeal. The table shows the approximate amount of milk received by goats at one time, and feed. nine0003

      Daily feed allowances for kids by age

      At the age of two weeks, they are given hay, fresh grass (if available), and concentrated feed with the addition of chalk and bone meal is introduced into the diet from three weeks. Then the young are accustomed to chopped root crops, starting from twenty to thirty grams.

      Hay and greens for kids start to give from 2 weeks

      At the same time they offer home-made compound feed, which includes bran, rolled oats, bone meal and chalk. In warm weather, goats are released outside already at the age of one month. nine0003

      By the end of the first month, the kids are transferred to four meals a day, by the end of the second to three meals a day. Goats are gradually transferred to a dairy-free diet in the fourth month of life.

      The table shows the scheme for feeding goats:

      The scheme for feeding artificial goats

      Regardless of the presence of milk, goats are fed with warm water. At seven months, young animals are transferred to an adult diet, they are given hay with silage and concentrates, root crops. With a balanced diet, a kid gains three to five kilograms of weight every month in the first six months. nine0003

      Vegetable food for kids

      Combined rearing method consists in leaving newborns with a goat for three to four days, then rearing artificially.

      Estimation of the article:

      Assess0002 Link


      Proper feeding of kids is a guarantee of high milk yields in the future. -

      The first feeding of a kid, video. How many times a day to feed the goats? What to feed monthly goats? Proper feeding of kids is the key to high milk yields in the future.

      The high productivity of goats depends on how the future nurse was raised . Depends on WHAT she received and in what quantities.

      Especially, it is important in the first three months, starting from the very first feeding . Keeping kids under a goat makes it impossible to control the amount of milk consumed if there are two or three kids under the goat.

      Full control can only be obtained by bowl feeding the kids. We feed our kids from a bowl and are very pleased with the results. Kids grow strong, have a large belly and a strong digestive system capable of processing large amounts of feed, from which, as you know, milk is obtained. The more feed units an animal can process per day, the more daily milk yield will be. nine0003

      Feeding kids from the first days of life.

      The basis of our method is the abundant feeding of the goat in the first months of life.

      Goat lambing. Birth of goats. Afterbirth." HERE.

      In all the literature devoted to goat breeding, on the first day of life, the daily norm of milk for a goat is 500g.

      Our goats drank up to 600 g of milk at the first dose (not colostrum, because the goat could not be started before lambing). nine0003

      Per day (DURING THE FIRST DAYS ) a kid can drink up to 1900 g of milk . In this case, their intestines are quickly freed from the original feces (meconium) and the body receives a starting set for intensive work . This is a very important point.

      By the age of 30 days, the books recommend bringing the daily milk intake to 1200-1400 g. Our monthly kids drink 2500-2600 g of pure goat milk per day.

      How to feed newborn kids?

      I want to focus on the soldering technique. "How to milk a goat correctly?" - HERE.

      Milk is offered only from a bowl. This allows you to control your milk intake at each feeding. Milk is poured into the bowl so much that it remains after the goat itself moves away from the dishes. Not a single kid ever had diarrhea, even though he fell off the bowl, like a ball. For the first two or three feedings, care must be taken that the kid's nose does not sink deep into the milk, and he does not capture it with his nostrils. If this happens, then after two or three sneezes, the baby will then figure out what's what. nine0003

      The bowl, first, should be brought to the muzzle and lightly press the goat's head between the ears with your finger. In no case should you put him on his knees, as is sometimes recommended in the literature, and poke his nose into a bowl. The kid will perceive all this as violence against himself and start a war with you. Then he will no longer have time for food, and he will remember this fear for a long time.

      How many times a day do you feed the kids?

      About the desoldering mode. The first two days the kid eats 6 times a day strictly after 4 hours. nine0036 Milk should always be warmed up to 40 degrees.

      Feeding a kid from a bowl.

      On the third day, you can switch to five meals a day. The goat itself prompts such a regime, refusing the sixth feeding, or the last two or three feedings will drink sluggishly.

      On the fifth or sixth day, his figure, after each feeding, will look like the letter "F". An abdomen will appear, which undernourished kids do not have.

      On the 7th-8th day, you can switch to four feedings. Intervals between feedings must be equal. This is important because the goat should come to the next feeding hungry. He pounces on a bowl of warm milk and drinks heavily. Coming to his senses, he raises his head and looks as if he is saying: “What have I done? I ate again!"

      When fed traditionally or kept under a goat, kids grow flat like a flounder. They have a sporty appearance, inherent in running animals. Dairy animals must have different dimensions. nine0003

      Video. Baby goat's first feeding.

      It happens that a goat runs up to a bowl and refuses to drink milk. The main reason for here lies in the underheated milk. Babies are very sensitive to this. It is necessary to warm up the milk and offer the kid again. I noticed that milk heated to 42-43 degrees, the kids drink faster and more than milk with a temperature of 40 degrees. In the cold season, if the kids are drinking in an unheated barn, the bowl of milk should be placed in another larger container filled with warm water. In this case, the milk will stay warm longer. nine0003

      “Shed for keeping goats. Goat shed floors. Feeders for goats” — HERE

      When a goatling drinks milk, it can (and should) be lightly stroked on its back. This procedure increases the amount of milk drunk. Apparently, he thinks that they want to drag him away from the bowl. After the kid has drunk, he needs to wipe his muzzle with a dry, clean rag or soft hay. After two or three “washes”, the kid will stand and wait to be rubbed on his face and said a few affectionate words. Everyone loves affection. nine0003

      Another point: the literature recommends introducing decoctions into the diet from 10 days of age. We never do this, because cereal or flour broth is already “adult” food, and the digestive system of a 10-day-old kid is not yet able to digest it. Most often, after such food, goats develop diarrhea , as a result of which growth and development slow down. And this is not the worst option.

      On the third-fourth day of life, the kid should be offered a rotten stump, gnawed by wood-boring beetles. It will happily eat softwood and brown woodworm excrement. Thus, the kid populates its gastrointestinal tract with microflora, which, in the future, will process cellulose. Goats belong to trees and shrubs and their diet must contain cellulose (bark or branches).

      When to start giving hay to a kid?

      From 10-11 days there should be good soft-leaved hay in the feeder. The kid, at first, does not eat it, but only savores it, licking various kinds of fungi and yeast from the surface of the leaves, which will also, in the future, take part in its digestion. At first, he spits out the licked leaves, and after 15-17 days he can already swallow some of the leaves he likes. After the 20th day of life, you can already see him belching. This suggests that the abomasum (the fourth section of the four-chamber stomach of ruminants) begins to slowly “wake up” in order to then take “adult” food. nine0003

      While walking, the goat is very interested in the moss that grows close to the ground on the trunks of aspen, young oak, blueberries.

      Gradually, the kid is preparing to become an adult ruminant.

      And in the literature, instead, it is proposed to make attacks with talkers and decoctions of cereals on the still unformed digestive system of a kid. This is fraught! The main food until the age of one and a half months should be pure milk.

      All the rest - variants from handicap by the presence of milk, from ignorance , or from the greed of the owner, who prefers to drink this milk himself, or sell it.

      The average weight of a 4-6 month old kid in the literature is 15-23 kg. Our monthly accelerating goats weigh an average of 13 kg. Monthly goats weigh 20 kg or more. A six-month-old goat weighs 50 kg or more.

      The maximum weight gain in goats is in the first month of life. It is important not to miss this time and in no case limit them in nutrition . Then, with each subsequent month, the weight gain is slower, although the kids continue to consume goat milk in plenty.

      That is why it is important not to restrict goats in milk during this initial period of their life, otherwise they will never reach high rates in terms of weight and milk yield. They will not be able to consume large amounts of food, because their digestive system will be less developed than that of an animal fed ad libitum with pure milk from the first hours of life until the age of six months. nine0003

      Feeding kids according to the Sosnowski method.

      Our feeding technology, at first glance, seems expensive and troublesome. But, I assure you, after 6 months, comparing the results, you will no longer want to raise kids differently.

      Your pets will differ in all respects for the better from goats raised in a different way. You will look at the flattened neighbor goats with tears in your eyes, thinking about how she was underfed in childhood, trying to deceive the growing body with all kinds of talkers, knocking down the baby’s digestion and resorting to medicines to save her from diarrhea. nine0003

      It must be borne in mind that in order to raise one kid using our method, you need to have two nurse goats in the farmstead, if your one goat is not able to fully provide the necessary amount of milk.

      A three-month-old goat is able to drink up to seven liters of milk per day, but at this age three liters of will be enough for her to eat adult food, which she is already able to process in large quantities. What to feed a goat in winter? - HERE . nine0003

      “The goat's gum has disappeared - the scar has stopped. Tympania of goat rumen. - HERE.

      At what age can a goat be covered?

      Goats fed from childhood ad libitum from a bowl are ready to cover after 4-5 months. And not in a year and a half, as almost all literature recommends.

      This late covering is due to the slow growth of due to the lack of normal food provided by nature , i.e. pure mother's milk. Now the representatives of the human race are all completely fed with mixtures that ruin the health of our future generations. But this is another topic and not for us to decide. Everything has been decided for us for a long time . ..

      We covered our kids when they were four or five months old. At the time of covering, the goats weigh 40-42 kg. At 9 months they became mothers and a month after lambing (10 months old) we milked 4.2 liters of milk per day from such a goat.

      One of our goats had her first hunt at 97 days old. This suggests that good feeding reduces the period of idle (unprofitable) keeping. The sexual cycle of a goat is 17-23 days. The hunt lasts 36 hours. Now goat breeders, who feed their kids from a bowl to their heart's content, also cover early. nine0003

      Usually we skip the first hunt and cover the second. I think that goats grown according to our method should be covered without much delay, because. in them, all the energy produced by large amounts of feed can go into obesity. The ovaries can fail and the fertility of such an individual will be very problematic.

      Comparison of feeding methods for kids.

      Now some comparative arithmetic.

      Sosnowski's method (ad libitum, pure milk from a bowl). nine0036

      In three months, our goat drinks, on average, 350-370 liters of pure goat milk. Covered at 5 months. Starts milking at 9-10 months of age.

      After the first lambing, her maximum daily milk yield is, on average, 4 liters. Brings healthy full-fledged kids.

      After 4-5 lambing, our goat reaches a daily milk yield of 6-7 liters. How much milk does a goat give? HERE . The average life expectancy and lactation of our goats is 13 years.

      Other method (keeping under a goat with complementary bait).

      Calculation of the amount of milk drunk is not possible, because drinking goes blindly. Covering such goats at the age of one and a half years. The maximum daily milk yield after the first lambing is usually 1-2 liters. The maximum milk yield of an adult goat is 3-4 liters. Literature "voices" the average life expectancy of goats at 6-7 years.

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